While the Champions League Round of 16 tie between Bayern Munich and Chelsea might be all but over in the heads of a large section of the fanbases of the two clubs, Bayern’s head coach Hansi Flick firmly believes the opposite.
In the press conference on Sunday, Flick pushed aside any traces of complacency. He said, “The game against Chelsea is our next assignment. The focus is now on that because we still have to get past them. At the moment, we’re not thinking about any other games at the tournament in Lisbon.”
Noting the recent performances of Chelsea as a reminder to stay completely focused, Flick also elaborated on the preparations heading into second leg against the West Londoners: “We had a little tournament today, since we currently have 27 players and three goalkeepers. After the game against Marseille on Friday, we’ll cut that down and turn our focus to the Chelsea game. Chelsea have played well recently, so it’s important we’re fully focused approaching the game.”
Going through a transition period of their own under their former player Frank Lampard, the Blues have had a rocky season. But this leg isn’t happening in March as it was supposed to. The long gap in football due to the coronovirus seems to have benefited Lampard’s side. Their performance and quality of play has seen a significant improvement since the restart. Winning 8 of their 11 games in all competitions, Chelsea beat Leicester City and Manchester United to reach the FA Cup finals, as well as finishing fourth in the Premier League, thereby locking in their qualification for next season’s Champions League.
A comparison of Chelsea’s stats (FBRef) before and after the coronavirus pause shows a rise in goals scored per game from 1.81 to 2 and rise in xG per game from 1.5 to 1.65. Their defense, however, has also leaked in more goals, with a rise in goals conceded per game from 1.31 to 1.45 (the five goals conceded against Liverpool affects this stat heavily due to the relatively small sample size of games). The xG allowed per game saw a much smaller rise from 0.88 to 0.92. This gives a better overall picture of Chelsea’s development. Their defense has remained more or less the same, while their offense has somewhat improved.
However, Bayern’s own run of form this season instills confidence, especially going into the home leg with a three-goal lead. That said, however, it would be wise to stay fully focused against an opposition that had the time to mend and improve, regaining confidence after a humbling defeat in front of its home crowd and now with nothing to lose.